As a graphic designer I’ve developed a few odd habits-or hobbies if you will. Over the past few years, it’s become a habit to check how many dental offices use a molar as their “logo” or as part of their signage. And they never disappoint. Think about it: how many “molar” logos do you drive by on your way home? I regret to say some well-travelled roads in Ottawa have an abundance of them (that would be Innes Rd.)
So today I thought I’d share some thoughts on visual clichés.
And while I love to pick on the molar, don’t get me wrong: dentists are by no means the only perpetrators. To be honest, in the world of visual imagery there are greater offences. But as a business and marketing strategy, choosing a well-worn cliché as your logo just doesn’t make sense.
Consider this: if your logo is “quite similar” to 10 others in a 5 kilometre radius, what are the chances your logo–and your business– will stick out and make an impression with a potential client?
So my question to you is: why spend money on a logo and brand image that does nothing to portray you as unique and distinctive?
UK designer David Airey (Logo Design Love) has some great thoughts on the topics of logo design and branding. Here’s what he says about visual cliches:
Just because it’s relevant, doesn’t mean you can’t do better using a design that doesn’t depict the product or service your client provides.”
And I have to agree. There’s a vast number of logos out there that depict the product or service they represent.
- think of all the lawyers that use the scales of justice;
- all the realtors that use an illustration of a house;
- all the roofing companies/contractors that use the outline of a roof.
A lot of them do. A huge number, in fact. That means they are just using a cliché to buy into the public’s memories. And by doing that, they fail to stand out or be different in any way-they are just like all the other dentists, lawyers, roofers and realtors.
Think of the times you yourself perhaps said to your spouse: “It’s the roofing guy with the yellow logo!” Or, “you know, that lawyer downtown with the grey scales of justice!” A quick online search will reveal a fairly large number of roofing companies and lawyers using rooflines and scales of justice. And it’s a pretty good bet you won’t remember which one you were thinking of.
As a consumer, that’s not a great problem; however, if you are the owner of that business, then it IS a problem. Because they chances of people guessing if it was your company they wanted to hire are iffy at best.
If your business is in the process of having its brand image designed, talk to your designer and consider options that aren’t obvious. Dare to be different. Just because you’re a contractor doesn’t mean you have to use a hammer in your logo!
Go for the unexpected-which will make it memorable. Yes, it takes time and effort to come up with a unique logo. But given that this will be the foundation of your company’s “public face”, doesn’t it deserve some time and thought? There isn’t much point in rushing out and putting up a sign that took 3 minutes to “design”-if it doesn’t help you stand out from your competitors.
Related post: Five sure signs that your business needs a brand refresh